Today, world, I am 29.
I really feel like I should be more affected by this. I mean, this is it. This is the last year of my twenties. You know what happens after this? THIRTY. And you know what happens after thirty? I hope you do. Otherwise we need to talk, in depth, about the state of our educational system. Also common core. We need to talk about common core. GOD. COMMON CORE IS THE WORST.
That’s another bitch for another day, though.
But today I am 29 and I feel like I’ve learned a hell of a lot in my 29 years, NO THANKS TO THE COMMON CORE, and I thought, you know what? I’m gonna kick off this first day of my last twentieth year talking about some of the most important lessons. 29 OF THEM, EVEN. BECAUSE THAT’S THE THEME HERE.
1. Don’t use slang ironically.
You know what happens when you use slang ironically? It stops being ironic and you start using it for real. It’s a slippery slope and no one actually sounds cool saying things like “YOLO” or “Swag” or “Yoooooooooo” out loud. Don’t be that person at the PTA meeting taking another cookie because “YOLO.” The other parents are already side-eyeing you for your Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That shirt.
2. Bae means Before Anyone Else.
GOD THAT PISSES ME OFF. I DON’T KNOW WHY.
3. Always have a really awesome alias in your back pocket.
Put some thought and effort into choosing it. You will never regret this.
4. Own your weird.
You know what makes the world interesting? Unique and interesting shit. And you know what you are? A UNIQUE AND INTERESTING LITTLE SHIT. Go forth and be confident in your strange. Someone is not gonna like it. Someone is gonna roll their eyes and whisper about you when your back is turned. But you know what? Those people would talk smack if you dulled your weird. You ignore those people and always be gloriously, oddly you, you weird bastard.
5. Sometimes you’re gonna get it wrong.
And the world will never ever end for it. Unless, of course, your job is to drill a hole into an asteroid on a collision course for earth, drop a bomb in that hole, and get the hell out of dodge in time for that bomb to be detonated and the earth to be saved from getting bitch slapped with an asteroid. You need to get that one right on the first try.
6. You do not owe an explanation to 98% of the people who want one.
Never let anyone make you feel otherwise. You can explain. You can explain to everyone, if that’s your choice. But you don’t owe them an explanation and if they act like you do, you’re probably within your rights to throw a pie at their face.
7. It’s always better to listen first.
When you rush to speak, just to add your voice to a topic, you run the risk of having to back peddle. You run the risk of looking like an asshole. You run the risk of being an asshole. Listen first, then talk. Don’t be an asshole.
8. Sometimes being kind is better than being right.
But sometimes being right is more important than being kind. The trick will be learning when to apply which.
9. If you claim privilege doesn’t exist, you’re probably privileged.
I’ve yet to meet an exception to this.
10. It’s perfectly acceptable to spend an entire day in a pair of boxers watching Netflix.
Anyone who says otherwise needs to spend an entire day in a pair of boxers watching Netflix.
11. Stop and take pictures once in awhile.
There’s gonna come a day when you’re sitting on the floor with a box of old photos and maybe you’ll be crying or maybe your heart will be throbbing and you’re gonna wish you had more. Take those pictures and don’t let go of them.
12. You can take a selfie.
You can use the word selfie too. And if you want to do duck lips? You do duck lips. You want to do that weird peace sign up against your face? You do that thing. You do these things and you don’t feel an ounce of shame for them. Just be sure to smile genuinely once in awhile. You have a pretty smile.
13. You’re always going to be too something for somebody.
Too much. Too little. Too loud. Too quiet. Too weird. Too bland. Don’t rebuild yourself unless you feel like you need rebuilt.
14. The more confident you are in your choices, the less validation you need from anyone else for them.
Whenever possible, be confident in your choices. Don’t hand that confidence to anyone else. They’re never as careful as you would be with it.
15. Quality over quantity.
16. It’s okay to be sad.
Or angry. Or hurt. Or broken. Or anxious. There’s gonna be people who tell you otherwise. There’s gonna be people who insist you feel how they think you should feel. You don’t have to do that. You’re allowed your emotions.
17. If you can’t change your situation, change your perspective.
There’s gonna be times in your life when things are horrifically shitty. There’s gonna be times when everything around you is falling apart and being in your skin, living your life, is miserable and awful. And some of those times you may have no control over. You may be unable to do a damn thing to fix things. But you can fix how you view it. You can change your perspective on it, and it’s a little tiny adjustment that sometimes means walking through the fire or being burned by it.
18. You don’t have to show up to every fight or problem you’re invited to.
It’s okay to pass. Stay home. Put on some boxers. Watch Netflix.
19. The book is always gonna be better the movie.
Well. Almost always.
20. You are not a check mark in a single box.
Never let anyone make you think otherwise. You are so many things, lovely and brilliant things. Awful and terrible things. You are vast and complex and get to be defined by more than one word. People will try to file you away neatly, but you don’t have to go. Don’t ever go.
21. The correct phrase is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”
Next time a family member misquotes in order to send you on a guilt trip, you unpack those bags and fire the correct one back at them.
22. It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Most people don’t.
23. Never be ashamed of your scars.
Literally and figuratively. Scars mean you’ve done something. You’ve been places and faced things and you came out on the other side. Scars are trophies, proof that you’ve lived and tried and survived and all the best heroes have them.
24. You’ll get older, but that doesn’t mean you have to grow up.
You are allowed to straddle the line between and adult and child. Have a foot in both the real world and Neverland. You can’t avoid growing older, but you don’t have to lose that spark of youth inside of you.
25. Whenever possible, build the people around you up.
If for some reason you’re unable to do that, at least don’t tear them down.
26. There is no such thing as guilty pleasures.
There is only pleasures and you shouldn’t feel guilty for them.
Well, unless they’re really fucking sick or immoral. Maybe feel bad for that.
27. The world rarely ends when it feels like it is.
You live another day. Then another. And another after that. They’re not always pretty. You don’t always come out on the other side completely unscathed. But you survive. You get through. Impossibly, against all rhyme or reason, you get through. Pretty soon, it’s a memory, and you marvel at a time when you were so sure it was all ending.
28. You are allowed to love things.
We have decided as a society that it’s cool to be cynical. It’s cool to criticize and be negative. But you know what? You are allowed to just love the crap out of whatever makes you happy. Fuck the idea of “guilty pleasures.” Fuck being ashamed of the things in life that brings you joy. Love the shit out of everything. Fangirl to the end of days. Buy the t-shirts, write the fanfic, and be unapologetically happy. You are allowed to celebrate.
29. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Remember that one? The golden rule? It’s still the most important. It’ll always be the most important. And this world would be a much, much better place if we all just treated each other the way we wanted to be treated.
Here’s to another year of learning. Of being ridiculous and making mistakes and loving things unapologetically. And here’s to cake. Because I’m definitely about to eat an entire cake.